How to Make the Most of Pinterest Group Boards
How to find and join Pinterest group boards resulting in more traffic from Pinterest to your blog. Try these great Pinterest business tips, tricks, and advice for bloggers on Pinterest search engine optimization, and Pinterest group boards.
I want to thank Dian Farmer for the opportunity to guest post on her blog. This post will deal with a “social media platform” (that is not a social media platform at all) called Pinterest. This post will be most helpful to people who have been on Pinterest for a while, and who understand the basics of the Pinterest platform. If you are a total newbie to Pinterest, this post may be a tad confusing as it deals with Pinterest seo and Pinterest Group Boards.
Pinterest launched as an invitation-only site in March of 2010. Growth was slow that first year. It was not until the app was launched for iPhone that Pinterest took off. Pinterest allowed users to save “pretty pictures” and articles to refer back to at a later date. In spite of that slow start, by the end of 2011, Pinterest had become a “top 10 social media network”.
While I had a Pinterest account for my old blog in 2011, I admit I seldom used it. I did not “get” Pinterest, and so I saw no reason to use the platform.
By 2013 Pinterest was approaching 50M users. I had started a new, lifestyle blog, and was having an argument with myself whether or not I wanted to be on Pinterest. “Oh, look at the pretty pictures” still seemed foolish to me. Why would people save photos for later? (And besides, there was flipboard for that too.) Pinterest was (and still is) a copyright nightmare. Photos can be stolen easily. Did I want my hard work available for anyone to take and use with the click of a button?
By November of 2013 I had accumulated a decent amount of blog posts. I had also heard from many of my blogging-buddies extolling the power of Pinterest: the ability to send thousands of hits daily to a blog just for pinning a blog post photo and decent description of the post!
Since I could not figure out the “why” of Pinterest, I decided to take a Pinterest class which, while it never answered the “why”, that class did lead me to my Pinterest strategy: “How can I help YOU?”
It turned out that my strategy was pretty farsighted. Pinterest is not a social media network. Pinterest is a search engine. Pinterest loves how-tos, lists, hacks, recipes, instructions, tutorials, etc. Pinterest likes when people help other people! Pinterest likes keywords and longtail keywords (more than one keyword… so instead of just looking at “chocolate” people will look for “chocolate chip cookies” – the more words the better chance of catching a phrase people are looking for!)
You can give yourself ideas on what to choose for a keyword or keyword phrase by typing in a word on Pinterest:
I typed in the word “chocolate”. Pinterest populated 5 highly searched search terms for the word “chocolate”. It also recommends three people to follow with the word “chocolate” in their Pinterest username, and three Pinterest “chocolate” boards to follow. You can follow interests and interesting people this way. For bloggers, it helps with ideas on how to title a blog post or the words used in the alt text so your pin will have the keywords in it and be found in the Pinterest search algorithm.
I can force just about any search term combination I want to come up… I type in the letter a and this is what populates:
Type in the letters ab and see what comes up, the letter b the letter bab etc. The possibilities are endless.
Like traditional seo (search engine optimization), Pinterest wants to recommend trusted sources. Domain quality (not a spam site), pin quality (is it a popular pin (chicken, egg, but like all seo longevity helps), not spam, do people like the pin), pinner quality (are you a good pinner who shares good content that people enjoy), and is the topic a good fit for the search term, all go into deciding if the pin is a good fit when someone searches on Pinterest.
Being a good pinner is important for followers, traffic, and to get invited to collaborative boards.
When I started that first class, I quickly learned about something called: Pinterest group boards (or Pinterest collaborative boards). This is where a group of like-minded people get together to pin and share content that has a common theme.
There are several ways to find group boards on Pinterest. Back in the day there was pingroupie.com. It had EVERY Pinterest group board listed, how many members, pins, where it ranked, etc. This was a great, but time consuming resource. (Pingroupie is no longer updated, which is a real shame.) You could also look at the profile of the people you follow and see what group boards they belong to. If you could find the group board owner’s contact information, you could follow their group board and email or message for an invite. However, sometimes it is very difficult to find the contact information for a Pinterest group board owner.
At this time, a facebook group for Pinterest group boards was also started. In this group bloggers could post their group board, and people could ask to be added. I am an admin for this group, and I cannot begin to tell you how many mistakes I see when people join a group board.
When I first began on Pinterest, I was given some excellent advice: do not join a group board with fewer followers than you have. I followed this advice until I hit 15-20K Pinterest followers. And it served me very well. Pinterest is all about seo, and even though Pinterest discourages followers as a metric (vanity numbers) the truth is stream-eyeballs DO matter. I would rather be pinning to a board with a million followers than a thousand followers. Why? Because even with “smart feed” (Pinterest’s algorithm where your pins are released slowly into your followers streams), eyeballs do matter.
Click here for a full explanation of how Pinterest Smart Feed works. If you are interested in the nuts and bolts (or pixels and megabytes) of how Pinterest works, reading the Pinterest Engineering Blog will help.
I see people join group boards with fewer than 1000 followers all the time! And it is not even newbies that do this, today I saw a 50K+ follower account (so she has been around a while) ask to join a group board with 378 followers!! Now while something could go Pinterest-viral off that 378 follower board (we have all seen Pinterest do this with small boards in the past), the honest to goodness truth is the people joining this board are probably wasting their time. The eyeballs just are not there. I would strongly urge people to wait to join a group board until it has several thousand followers, and do not join a board with less followers than you have until you have more than 20K followers yourself (after you obtain 20K followers the number of group boards with more followers than you have shrinks tremendously).
Some other things to consider about group boards: if a group board had 5,000 followers but 2571 collaborators, guess what? Your pins will not be repinned and probably will not be seen. Look for group boards with low pinner-to-follower ratios. For myself, I own 5 group boards. The smallest of them has 32K followers and 13 contributors (including me). It is a VERY niche board, so slow moving. My largest group board has 37K followers and 66 contributors (including me). It is a top 30 group board in the gardening niche (this will move around during the year). In case you were wondering I am currently closing in on 45K Pinterest followers and this is supposedly in the top 10K of all Pinterest accounts.
There have been rumors that Pinterest is giving less weight, and even penalizing, group boards. I just know that for myself, I would be in real trouble without some great group boards:
Those are my top 5 boards by impressions for my pins in the last month (mine is actually set to two weeks, and honestly I am not sure which is accurate). These boards are also currently my top 5 boards for click-thrus to my blog. That does change when I check my Pinterest analytics. My “best of” board and the BHG board are always in the top 5, but the other 3 do rotate depending on the season. The truth is I would have very little blog traffic without group boards, and for me, I still consider them a great use of pinning-time.
So stop being foolish and joining Pinterest group boards willy-nilly. Put some thought into how a board can help you, how you can help the board, and if the arrangement is a quid pro quo, or if you are wasting your time with that board. When people issue you an invitation to a group board through the Pinterest messenger (because you are such a good pinner!) make the same decision: is this board large enough for me to join? Is the pinner to follower ratio good? Can I contribute well and wisely to this group board? Will this group board help me as much as I can help it?
I also look at the group rules when deciding whether or not to join a group board. The largest group board on Pinterest quickly becomes useless is it never allows a pin to be repinned. If the group board does not allow text on photos I know they are still stuck in 2011 and have not heard that Pinterest is experimenting with reading the text on pins (and talk about an easy way for your work to be stolen!). I like to see pin limits on a group board, although it is not necessary. Some people limit to one pin per collaborator per day, three pins per day, only two pins in a row, etc. Some people want only vertical pins (Pinterest lists a 2:3 ratio and 600px x 900px as optimal click here for size recommendations from Pinterest itself), and will not allow extremely long pins (that Pinterest truncates anyway). So read the group board rules to see if you can live with them, and save yourself from getting the boot!
While Pinterest appears to be moving to the Facebook pay-for-play model (full disclosure, I own Pinterest stock via a private raise they did, and am rubbing my hands together waiting for the IPO – however this does not get me any insight into the inner working of Pinterest. Darn it!!), free traffic is still there for the taking. Depending on your niche, 5K, 10K or more clicks to your blog from Pinterest per day are still possible. You just have to adapt to the smart feed changes, improve your Pinterest seo, and use good judgement when joining group boards, and stop making unforced errors on Pinterest!
Ann owns and operates Ann’s Entitled Life, a lifestyle blog that features recipes, cocktails, crafts and gardening advice. While never claiming to be a Pinterest expert, Ann does (finally) get Pinterest. You can follow her Pinterest account by clicking here.